CHILD CUSTODY CASES

 

Here are some excerpts from the Watchtower Society's publication " Preparing For Child Custody Cases"; some portions of the booklet give sample answers to some of the questions, which we have provided citing according to the booklet.

[Note: The JWOP editor has underlined certain portions of the following excerpts]:

 

Table of Contents:

Introduction
Sample Cross-Examination Questions The Witness Parents Could Face
Sample Approach By Witness Parent to Cross-Examination
Sample Cross-Examination Questions for Non-Witness Parent
Sample Direct Examination and Sample Responses for Local Elder
Sample Resume of Bible Story Book
Sample Direct Examination and Sample Responses for Young Witnesses
List of Source Material
Preparation For Psychological or Psychiatric Evaluation

 

Introduction:

This booklet is designed to help you and your attorney prepare for the difficulties Christian parents often face in child custody disputes. In the eyes of the law, the overriding concern in every custody suit is the welfare and best interests of the child. In deciding which parent will better provide for a child's best interests, courts will examine all aspects of the child's physical, emotional, and spiritual welfare in either household. Thus your religious practices and teachings as one of Jehovah's Witnesses will probably be a subject of inquiry by your former spouse and the court. Opposers often focus attention on refusal to consent to blood transfusions, holidays and birthday celebrations, arguing that Witness children are deprived of a "normal" upbringing. There is no need to hide or distort your religious beliefs and practices in the face of such criticism. When giving an answer, always try to focus on the positive aspects of your religious beliefs, showing how they have benefited you and your family. (Isa . 48 :17) Be sure to answer questions regarding such subjects in a way that is both understandable and reasonable, accurately presenting the wholesomeness of the Christian home. -1 Pet . 3:15. This booklet will also help you prepare for psychological examinations that frequently are required as part of a child custody determination. Having some idea of the type of questions a psychologist may ask should help you handle the examination naturally and without undue anxiety. Disputes over child custody can be an ordeal for Christian parents. But with preparation and reliance on Jehovah, you need not be without hope, knowing that in the end Jehovah will set all matters straight.-Ps. 43 :1 ; 1 Pet . 3 :12.

 

Snippets from the Booklet vs. Real Watchtower Teaching:


"Many try to portray the beliefs and practices of Jehovah's Witnesses as dogmatic and restrictive. When answering questions about your religious beliefs and practices, emphasize the fact that you have formed your beliefs and adopted your practices after much study andreflection; your religion is not simply a matter of rules which have been imposed by the elders. You want to emphasize the fact that you are a thinking, well-balanced, and reasonable individual who is competent to act as a parent. Avoid any response which gives the impression that you are unwilling or unable to provide for your child's best interests because of your religious beliefs." (pp.2-3).

We must always remember that Jesus is the true Head of the congregation. (Col. 1:18) That is one reason why we humbly submit to the direction of appointed elders, giving them “more than extraordinary consideration.” (1 Thess. 5:12, 13)
(The Watchtower, June 15, 2008, Study Edition, pp. 21-22, para.16)

Since the elders in our congregations submit to Christ, the Head of the congregation, they deserve our full cooperation.—Colossians 1:18.... Notice that Paul invites us to “contemplate,” or carefully observe, the outcome of the faithful conduct of the elders and to follow such examples of faith. Furthermore, he counsels us to be obedient and to submit to the direction of these appointed men
(The Watchtower, April 1, 2007, Study Edition, p.27, para. 6, p.28, para.8)

"The stand which Jehovah's Witnesses take regarding governments is often misunderstood. When responding to questions regarding your view of government, accentuate the positive- you pay all your taxes, you are honest and law abiding, you do not involve yourself in civil disobedience, and you believe that the superior authorities, including court officials, should be obeyed and are worthy of our honor and respect."
[and then the book goes on to list the following points (this is not a complete list of points)]


• Do you believe the governments of this world are controlled by Satan?
In the Bible book of Daniel, the various beasts represent successive human kingdoms, or empires. The composite beast of Revelation 13:1, 2 symbolizes the worldwide political system, empowered and controlled by Satan. (The Watchtower, April 1, 2004, p.5, box)

• Do you believe God will destroy the governments of
this world?
God’s Kingdom will put an end to all human governments. The prophet Daniel was given a vision in which he saw a succession of world powers, stretching down through history into our own time. Notice the thrilling climax to that vision: “In the days of those [final human] kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.” So all the kingdoms, or governments, of this world—with their wars, oppression, and corruption—will be destroyed forever. As Daniel’s prophecy shows, God’s Kingdom will soon rule over the whole earth. (Daniel 2:44, 45) A concrete reality, it will remain the only government in existence.
(The Watchtower, January 1, 2008, p.6, point #2)

As we saw in the preceding article, God’s Kingdom will destroy all the governments of this world.
(The Watchtower, January 1, 2008, p.9)


• Do you teach your child that he will be persecuted
for his beliefs? Is that healthy for your child? (p.6)
“YOU miserable Jew!” snapped the schoolteacher, as she slapped her seven-year-old student. She then invited the class to file by him and to spit in his face. Both the teacher and the student—her nephew—knew perfectly well that the boy and his parents were not of Jewish descent. Nor were they Jewish by faith. Rather, they were Jehovah’s Witnesses. Taking advantage of widespread prejudice against Jews, the teacher was fostering hatred of her student. For years both the teacher and her class had been told by their priest that Jehovah’s Witnesses were despicable. The boy’s parents had been called both Communists and agents of the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). So the boy’s classmates filed by, eager to spit in the face of a “miserable Jew.”
(Awake!, June 22, 2000, p.3)

Jesus indicated that those who are cut off by family members for the sake of the truth will be rewarded “a hundredfold.” (Mark 10:29, 30) This was true of Entellia, a ten-year-old girl in northern Africa, who loved God’s name—Jehovah—as soon as she heard it. She studied with Jehovah’s Witnesses and walked 90 minutes each way to meetings, even though her opposed family often shut her out of the home on her return. At 13 years of age, she started to preach from house to house, and the family’s opposition intensified. One day relatives bound her hands and feet and had her lie in the broiling sun for seven hours, occasionally throwing dirty water over her. They beat her viciously, destroying one of her eyes, and finally drove her from her home. However, she found work in a hospital and eventually qualified as a nurse. At age 20 she was baptized and enrolled immediately as an auxiliary pioneer. Impressed by her integrity, her family has welcomed her back into their home, and nine of them have accepted home Bible studies.
(The Watchtower, January 1, 1995, p.7, para.12)

Court Question: Do you believe the Catholic (or other) Church is true or false?
Jehovah's Witness Answer: I believe its teachings are in error. (p.12)

Another example of valueless words is found among the religious leaders of Christendom. These claim to speak in God’s name, but most of their utterances are not based on the Scriptures, and what they say is basically worthless.
The Watchtower, April 15, 2008, p.6 para.17

Because Christendom’s sects made religion easy for such worldlings, and because they could join her as church members and at the same time continue to be a part of this selfish, idolatrous, bloodstained world, all these elements of human society let themselves be herded into harlot-like Christendom.
The Nations Shall Know That I Am Jehovah (1971 ) p.260 para.59

Court Question: Will all Catholics (or others) be destroyed?
Jehovah's Witness Answer: Jehovah makes those judgments, not we. (p.12)

The Bible pointed to the rise of Christendom’s clergy, describing them collectively as “the man of lawlessness” and “the son of destruction . . . whom the Lord Jesus will do away with . . . and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence.”—2 Thess. 2:3, 6-8. [ellipses theirs]
The Watchtower, June 15, 2008, p.8 para.6

Learning the truth about God from the Bible—that he cares for us as individuals, that he will destroy false religion, and that he is now backing a worldwide preaching work—made sense to me.
(The Watchtower, February 1, 2009, p.29)

Court Question: Do you teach that it is better to die than take a blood transfusion?
Jehovah's Witness Answer: I do not want myself or my children to die. I want the best medical treatment I can get for my child. Blood transfusions carry many death-dealing side effects such as AIDS. We prefer to accept safer medical alternatives. (p.13)

What about the idea that in refusing transfusions Jehovah’s Witnesses are exercising a “right to die”? The fact is that Jehovah’s Witnesses want to stay alive. That is why they seek medical help. But they cannot and will not violate their deep-seated and Bible-based religious convictions... For Jehovah’s Witnesses, who direct their lives by the Bible, blood transfusions certainly are “extraordinary” treatment. In fact, they are morally forbidden.
(Jehovah's Witnesses and the Question Of Blood, 1977, p.21,27 para.57, 71)

Is it wrong to accept a blood transfusion? Remember, Jehovah requires that we abstain from blood. This means that we must not take into our bodies in any way at all other people’s blood or even our own blood that has been stored. (Acts 21:25) So true Christians will not accept a blood transfusion. They will accept other kinds of medical treatment, such as transfusion of nonblood products. They want to live, but they will not try to save their life by breaking God’s laws... To please God, we must avoid blood transfusions, unclean habits, and unnecessary risks.
(What Does God Require Of Us?, 2006 edition, p.25)

Court Question: What if a doctor said there are no alternatives?
Jehovah's Witness Answer: That is only one opinion. Jehovah's Witnesses know from experience that there are many different medical opinions. Also we know of many cases where the same thing was said but the patient still recovered without blood transfusion. Jehovah's Witnesses are being treated successfully without blood by doctors and hospitals throughout North America. (p.13)

Would a Christian break God’s law just to stay alive a little longer in this system of things? Jesus said: “Whoever wants to save his soul [or, life] will lose it; but whoever loses his soul for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25) We do not want to die. But if we tried to save our present life by breaking God’s law, we would be in danger of losing everlasting life. We are wise, then, to put our trust in the rightness of God’s law, with full confidence that if we die from any cause, our Life-Giver will remember us in the resurrection and restore to us the precious gift of life
(What Does the Bible Really Teach?, 2005, p.130, para.15 subheading "Showing Respect For Blood")

The apostles and other men taking the lead among Jesus’ followers in the first century met together to decide what commands had to be obeyed by all in the Christian congregation. They came to this conclusion: “The holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you, except these necessary things, to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled [leaving the blood in the meat] and from fornication... the command to abstain from blood means that we would not allow anyone to transfuse blood into our veins.
(What Does The Bible Really Teach?, 2005, p.130, para.12-13)

Do you love your children only so long as they are in your religion? (p.24)

If a minor child living in the home is disfellowshipped*, Christian parents are still responsible for his upbringing. The Watchtower of November 15, 1988, page 20, states: “Just as they will continue to provide him with food, clothing, and shelter, they need to instruct and discipline him in line with God’s Word. (Proverbs 6:20-22; 29:17) Loving parents may thus arrange to have a home Bible study with him, even if he is disfellowshipped. Maybe he will derive the most corrective benefit from their studying with him alone. Or they may decide that he can continue to share in the family study arrangement.”—See also The Watchtower of October 1, 2001, pages 16-17.
(Our Kingdom Ministry, August 2002, p.4, para.8)

... the psalmist said: “Do I not hate those who are intensely hating you, O Jehovah, and do I not feel a loathing for those revolting against you? With a complete hatred I do hate them. They have become to me real enemies.” (Psalm 139:21, 22) It was because they intensely hated Jehovah that David looked on them with abhorrence. Apostates** are included among those who show their hatred of Jehovah by revolting against him. Apostasy is, in reality, a rebellion against Jehovah. Some apostates profess to know and serve God, but they reject teachings or requirements set out in his Word. Others claim to believe the Bible, but they reject Jehovah’s organization and actively try to hinder its work. When they deliberately choose such badness after knowing what is right, when the bad becomes so ingrained that it is an inseparable part of their makeup, then a Christian must hate (in the Biblical sense of the word) those who have inseparably attached themselves to the badness. True Christians share Jehovah’s feelings toward such apostates; they are not curious about apostate ideas. On the contrary, they “feel a loathing” toward those who have made themselves God’s enemies, but they leave it to Jehovah to execute vengeance.
(The Watchtower, October 1, 1993, p.19, para.15)

What view does your church encourage children to take toward a parent who is not one of Jehovah's Witnesses? (Ephesians 6 :1 is to be applied to one who is not one of Jehovah's Witnesses, as well as to a parent who is disfellowshipped. (p.31)

However, The Watchtower of September 15, 1981, page 28, points out regarding the disfellowshipped or disassociated person: “Former spiritual ties have been completely severed. This is true even with respect to his relatives, including those within his immediate family circle. . . . That will mean changes in the spiritual fellowship that may have existed in the home. For example, if the husband is disfellowshiped, his wife and children will not be comfortable with him conducting a family Bible study or leading in Bible reading and prayer. If he wants to say a prayer, such as at mealtime, he has a right to do so in his own home. But they can silently offer their own prayers to God. (Prov. 28:9; Ps. 119:145, 146) What if a disfellowshiped person in the home wants to be present when the family reads the Bible together or has a Bible study? The others might let him be present to listen if he will not try to teach them or share his religious ideas.”
(Our Kingdom Ministry, August 2002, pp.3-4, para.7)


EVIDENCE OF YOUNG PEOPLE :
[Note how this particular section seeks to coach children on how to answer, compared to the actual Watchtower Society teaching ]
This can be used to show that they are normal. Identify and interview young people from local congregations who have been raised as Jehovah's Witnesses and, in the eyes of the presiding overseer, are spiritually minded but also enjoy the normal healthy things that young people do. They don't have to be competitive to enjoy sports. Be careful that they don't get the impression that they are in a demonstration at the circuit assembly, when they would show that the first things in life are service and going to the Kingdom Hall. Show hobbies, crafts, social activity, sports, and especially plans for the future. Be careful they don't all say that they are going to be pioneers . Plans can be trade, getting married and having children, journalism, and all kinds of other things. Maybe you can show an interest in art and the theater. They must be clean, moral, honest, but with the interests that you would expect from other young people.(p.43)

To be truly happy, you must take to heart the words of wise King Solomon: “Remember your Creator while you are still young.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1, Today’s English Version) In other words, the choices you make in life should be governed by your desire to please God... Don’t you feel compelled to give something back to Jehovah God in appreciation for all that he has given you? Keeping their Creator close in mind, many youths among Jehovah’s Witnesses have pursued the full-time ministry. Consider some of the thrilling avenues of service that may be open to you. Pioneering. Regular pioneers spend an increased amount of time in the ministry. Through training and experience, they sharpen their skills as Bible teachers. Serving where there is a greater need. Some move to an area where there are few Kingdom proclaimers. Others learn a new language and serve with a nearby foreign-language congregation or even move to a foreign land. Missionary service. Qualified pioneers who have health and stamina are trained for service in foreign lands. Missionaries lead exciting, fulfilling lives. Bethel service. Bethel family members serve in branch offices of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In some lands this involves the production and shipping of Bible literature. International service. International servants travel to other lands to aid in the construction of Kingdom Halls, Assembly Halls, and branch facilities. Ministerial Training School. Qualified unmarried elders and ministerial servants are trained in organizational matters and in public speaking. Some graduates take on a foreign assignment... The full-time ministry is a noble goal, and it brings countless blessings. Forethought, though, will be needed. For example, ask yourself, ‘What abilities and skills do I have that I could use to support myself?’Kelly had a clear goal of becoming a pioneer, so she plotted her course when it came to employment. “I had to choose something that would allow me to support myself in my ministry,” she says.Kelly enrolled in a vocational program in high school. This helped her to achieve her primary goal. “The full-time ministry was what I wanted to do,” Kelly says. “Everything else was secondary.” Kelly is happy with her choice. “I feel my decision was the best one that I could have made,” she says...
(Young People Ask, Chapter 38, "What Will I Do With My Life?", pp. 312-316)

What, though, of higher education, received in a college or a university? This is widely viewed as vital to success. Yet, many who pursue such education end up with their minds filled with harmful propaganda. Such education wastes valuable youthful years that could best be used in Jehovah’s service. (Eccl. 12:1) Perhaps it is not surprising that in lands where many have received such an education, belief in God is at an all-time low. Rather than looking to the advanced educational systems of this world for security, a Christian trusts in Jehovah.
(The Watchtower, April 15, 2008, p.4, para.10)

In addition to the bad environment, there is the pressure of schoolwork and examinations. Naturally, students need to study and do their homework to pass the exams. Some may also need to hold at least a part-time job while going to school. All of this takes a great deal of their time and energy. What, then, will be left for spiritual activities? When pressures mount, what will be let go? Will Kingdom interests still come first, or will they be put aside?... Today, the popular opinion is that for young people to succeed, the only option is to get a university education. However, instead of following what is popular, Christians heed the Bible’s admonition: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2) What is God’s will for his people, young and old, in this final stage of the time of the end? Paul urged Timothy: “Keep your senses in all things, suffer evil, do the work of an evangelizer, fully accomplish your ministry.” Those words are surely applicable to all of us today... Rather than be caught up by the materialistic spirit of the world, all of us need to ‘keep our senses’—our spiritual bearings. If you are a young person, ask yourself: ‘Am I putting forth my best effort to “accomplish my ministry,” to make myself a qualified minister of God’s Word? What are my plans for pursuing my ministry “fully”? Have I considered taking up full-time service as a career?’
(The Watchtower, October 1, 2005, pp. 29-30, para. 12-15)

 

FOOTNOTES:

* How should we treat a disfellowshipped person?
The Bible says: “Quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man.” (1 Corinthians 5:11) Regarding everyone that “does not remain in the teaching of the Christ,” we read: “Never receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him. For he that says a greeting to him is a sharer in his wicked works.” (2 John 9-11) We do not have spiritual or social fellowship with disfellowshipped ones. The Watchtower of September 15, 1981, page 25, stated: “A simple ‘Hello’ to someone can be the first step that develops into a conversation and maybe even a friendship. Would we want to take that first step with a disfellowshiped person?”Is strict avoidance really necessary? Yes, for several reasons. First, it is a matter of loyalty to God and his Word. We obey Jehovah not only when it is convenient but also when doing so presents real challenges. Love for God moves us to obey all his commandments, recognizing that he is just and loving and that his laws promote the greatest good. (Isaiah 48:17; 1 John 5:3) Second, withdrawing from an unrepentant wrongdoer protects us and the rest of the congregation from spiritual and moral contamination and upholds the congregation’s good name. (1 Corinthians 5:6, 7) Third, our firm stand for Bible principles may even benefit the disfellowshipped one. By supporting the decision of the judicial committee, we may touch the heart of a wrongdoer who thus far has failed to respond to the efforts of the elders to assist him. Losing precious fellowship with loved ones may help him to come “to his senses,” see the seriousness of his wrong, and take steps to return to Jehovah. What if a relative is disfellowshipped? In such a case, the close bond between family members can pose a real test of loyalty. How should we treat a disfellowshipped relative? We cannot here cover every situation that may arise, but let us focus on two basic ones. In some instances, the disfellowshipped family member may still be living in the same home as part of the immediate household. Since his being disfellowshipped does not sever the family ties, normal day-to-day family activities and dealings may continue. Yet, by his course, the individual has chosen to break the spiritual bond between him and his believing family. So loyal family members can no longer have spiritual fellowship with him. For example, if the disfellowshipped one is present, he would not participate when the family gets together to study the Bible. However, if the disfellowshipped one is a minor child, the parents are still responsible to instruct and discipline him. Hence, loving parents may arrange to conduct a Bible study with the child.—Proverbs 6:20-22; 29:17.
(Keep Yourselves in God's Love, 2008, p.208)

 

** The Watchtower Society defines "Apostasy" as follows:
This term in Greek (a-po-sta-si'-a) comes from the verb a-phi'-ste-mi, literally meaning “stand away from.” The noun has the sense of “desertion, abandonment or rebellion.” (Ac 21:21, ftn) In classical Greek the noun was used to refer to political defection, and the verb is evidently employed in this sense at Acts 5:37, concerning Judas the Galilean who “drew off” (a-pe'-ste-se, form of a-phi'-ste-mi) followers. The Greek Septuagint uses the term at Genesis 14:4 with reference to such a rebellion. However, in the Christian Greek Scriptures it is used primarily with regard to religious defection; a withdrawal or abandonment of the true cause, worship, and service of God, and hence an abandonment of what one has previously professed and a total desertion of principles or faith. The religious leaders of Jerusalem charged Paul with such an apostasy against the Mosaic Law.
(Insight On the Scriptures, 1988, Vol. 1, p.126)